After Before Forum Week 62; Blackpool Pit

Wk62 before

The After Before Forum is a place where photographers of all levels can show how they get the wow in their photography. It is easy and fun to take part, you can check out how here.

When I first started studying photography I spent many months walking around clay pits in the St.Austell area taking photos on Ilford film. I have revisited the area a few times since I moved away from Cornwall and each time I find some incredible shots. This weeks After Before image is of Blackpool Pit.

Blackpool pit was a China Clay open cast mine operated by Imerys near Trewoon. The Pit was closed in 2007 as the company moved their business to Brazil removing an estimated £12 million from the local economy. The pit has now been filled with water creating an artificial lake.


The first step I took was actually not the first step. I took a series of image in portrait, which I had bracketed, and created a series of HDR images in Lightroom. I then merged my HDR images to HDR. From this point I can see what I like and dislike. The picture is quite dark but not really under exposed and the colours feel quite muted.


I cropped the image and did all our lens corrections.


I wasn’t sure where I was going to start. I decided to start off with a landscape preset I have to give me some ideas. I also when back and rotated the image slightly and then adjusted the crop some more to make the composition more balanced.


I added a gradient adjustment to the top of the image to bring the clouds back into the image. I didn’t want to make them dark and moody; I wanted them just to add some detail into the sky.


The image was still feeling quite dark, but I didn’t want to push the exposure more. I used the Tone Curve Panel to brighten the highlights and midtones but also brought in the blacks a bit as well.


I sharpened the image keeping a low radius and high details to sharpen all the small details in the image. I didn’t reduce the noise as it was helping keep the image sharp.
I also adjusted the colour temperature slightly to get a bit more blue and a bit less yellow.


I wasn’t really pappy with the haze in the background. I used an adjustment brush to reduce it a little. I didn’t want to reduce it too much, because I didn’t want the background to become too interesting and bring the focus away from the foreground.


I added two radial adjustments one on the pit to brighten and increase the saturation. The second radial adjustment is kind of to create a custom vignette to bring the focus to the pit.


I decided to add another gradient to the sky just to brighten the clouds and bring in some more highlight detail to add contrast to the whole image.

Blackpool Pit 2015

I really like the final image, It really shows how expansive and huge the pit is. I think this picture would be better printed or view in full res to see all the small little details. If I could make one adjustment it would be to have more room at the top of the image and add more clouds.

Week 62 Entries For The After Before Friday Forum

Benjamin Rowe Aperture64

Mary Hone


Nic Anderson

Please check out the links to the other members posts to see how they make their image pop.

Thanks to all those who took part this week. If you wish to take part in the forum next week check out the forum guide here.

I would love to here what you think and you can let me know in the comment box below.


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16 thoughts on “After Before Forum Week 62; Blackpool Pit

  1. First of all, wow on what a place to see. It looks amazing! I really like your edit too. I love all the details. When I finally get around to get new software, I may just have a clue on how to do some things because of you. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful landscape editing, you have transformed the image. Great step-by-step instruction, Ben. Thank you so much!
    I was not happy with the AF I tried to come up with. I hope to post one next Friday. 🙂

    • Thank you Amy. If you are not happy with an image you can always submit it with that info and maybe someone maybe able to help or give you an idea to improve it. I and I think Stacey wanted the forum to be a place to learn and share.
      I can’t wait to see your picture next week.

  3. I really like all the small adjustments you made to create an image that really pops. I was a little confused, but I think I figured it out — so you took several photos in portrait orientation to make a panorama and also bracketed those shots to make the pano HDR, right? Whatever you did, you created a grand and sweeping landscape image. Interesting history lesson as well 😀

    ~ Apologies for the late comment, I’m in the middle of a system/hardware upgrade and don’t have access to my laptop at the moment.

    • Hi Nic, sorry for the late reply. At the weekend was a Light Festival in the city and spent all my time shooting and editing everything else became a blur.

      You have got it right in a way. I shot a series of vertical bracketed shots and in lightroom combined the bracketed shots together as hdr images and then merged them to a panorama. With Lightroom this is quite quick however I have had a few occasions where things haven’t worked out and I have had to go back to my old method.

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